Thursday, October 10, 2013

WFTL and RH Gore - Afloat in the Venice of America

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By Jane Feehan

Radio station WFTL, the first in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County has had a series of owners closely associated with the founding and growth of the city. 
Fort Lauderdale pioneer Tom M. Bryan bought a radio station in 1937 and used the call letters WFTL. After he operated WFTL for a year and a half, Bryan sold the station to Ralph Horton, who, in turn, sold it to Miami investors. The station became known as WGBS.

Fort Lauderdale was without its own radio station throughout World War II and until 1946, when it went back on the air with new owners Martin E. Dwyer of Chicago and U.S Rep. Dwight L. Rogers of Fort Lauderdale.  They first operated the station across the street from the Governors Club Hotel. Then they moved it to a houseboat on SE 15th Street, along the New River, and advertised with the appropriate slogan, "Afloat in the Venice of America."

During the fall of 1948, R.H. Gore, owner of the Fort Lauderdale Daily News, The Governors Club Hotel, and Sea Ranch Cabana Club, bought the station. At that time he also launched its sister station, WGOR-FM. Gore’s mission for both radio properties was to place “community interest above all other considerations.” The station, then an NBC affiliate, operated at 100 E. Broward Boulevard, where news was read from a desk at the Fort Lauderdale Daily News.

Gore sold the station a few years after acquiring it to Joseph C. Amaturo under whom WFTL reached stability and success. Since then, WFTL has had a long, convoluted string of owners.

Today,850 WFTL, "Florida's Talk Leader," is a 50,000-watt station owned by the James Crystal Radio Group, the largest (according to their website) locally owned and operated radio station group in South Florida. The James Crystal Radio Group also owns and operates WMEN-AM 640, WFLL-AM 1400, and KBXD in Dallas. Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

Gore, Paul A., Past the Edge of Poverty.  Fort Lauderdale: R.H. Gore Company, 1990.
Fort Lauderdale News, Jan. 9, 1948.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, radio in Fort Lauderdale, historical researcher, film researcher, RH Gore

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